Many of my friends espouse some kind of faith, and it's clear to me that they get some good out of it. My feeling is that religion and faith, like music or sports or drugs or creativity, is a way of making parts of your brain light up in a way that is pleasurable and that often encourages you to do good. I think that part of it is good.
But just like all of those things, religion and faith make some people do bad things, as they find pathological ways of evoking the pleasurable sensation in their minds. I also think that the pleasurable sensation that attends the numinous state is a powerful conditioner of behavior, and that it can be exploited to get people to do terrible things (cf violent religious extremism), or merely things that are not good for them (deferring to religious authorities with bad ideas, giving money they can't afford to religious causes).
Well, we have Bronze Aged tribal nonsense, these things written by people in tents ages ago, and we're using this to renounce science standards in our classrooms in America. We're using it to kind of influence our political agenda.Trading bibles for porn in San Antonio (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)
And we've read it. Atheists actually tend to be rather knowledgeable about scripture, and we are using this as a medium to get people to know what's actually within the religious text that they hold so dear.
(Image: Holy Bible, a Creative Commons Attribution photo from Steve Snodgrass' photostream)
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.